Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber says that Dakota Escritt was clearly the initial aggressor in a clash with Gregary Teer that ended in Escritt's death. No charges will be filed against Teer.
Authorities played surveillance video at a news conference Wednesday that showed an escalating conflict between Escritt and Gregary Teer.
An autopsy Tuesday concluded that the cause of death was blunt force injury to the head. He suffered a skull fracture in a fall to the floor.
The confrontation began in the AL cafeteria. There was an exchange of words between a few people although Escritt was wearing earbuds at the time and did not hear most of those exchanges.
Authorities say that at one point Teer and a friend left the cafeteria. Dakota Escritt followed them into a commons area.
County Attorney Matt Wilber said, "Dakota clearly went off in pursuit."
Wilber said Escritt approached Teer on some stairs and pushed him. Wilber said they moved down the steps, Escritt pushed him three times before Teer retaliated. Teer threw one punch and Escritt fell to the ground.
Escritt was still conscious after initially falling. Teer walked away. A teacher came to render aid while another teacher went for additional help.
Wilber said that witness accounts of the incident have been contradictory. He said, “That complicated matters for us but in the end the video tells the story.”
He also said, “In Iowa you are entitled to use reasonable force to defend yourself,” and he said, "This is not a case of deadly force being used," even though Escritt did eventually die.
Wilber said Teer, “intended to throw a punch and he did throw a punch,” but he didn’t intend for anyone to die.
Teer said Wednesday, "I didn't mean for any of this to happen."
The fight took place last Thursday. Escritt died Saturday at Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha.
Police arrested and charged 16-year-old Gregary Teer with felony assault causing serious injury. He's since been released to his guardian because he is a juvenile and on Wednesday, Wilber said no chages would be filed after reviewing the video and evidence in the case.
After the news conference Wednesday Gregary Teer said, "I feel terrible about everything that happened. I want to apologize to Dakota's family and my family for everything I have put them through. I feel really, really bad."
A vigil was held in memory of Escritt at Bayliss Park last Sunday. Family and friends held hands and prayed.
"He was the kindest boy you would ever meet," said friend Crysta Duncan. "He would always try and put a smile on your face. If you were down, he would sit here and just goof off and laugh and just try and make you smile."
The death of the teen brought more than tears, it also brought anger over how he died. "Dakota didn't deserve to lose his life because a kid decided to take a swing," said Duncan. "Dakota was a great friend of mine. He did not deserve any of this."
While some Abraham Lincoln students described the incident as bullying that came to a head, Council Bluffs School District officials said there had been "no reports of bullying by these young men." Police told WOWT there was "no documented history between the two."
On Wednesday, Wilber said there was no evidence of any bullying conduct between the groups involved in this incident.
Gregary Teer’s status as a student at Abraham Lincoln High remains unresolved. He said Wednesday that he wants to remain at A.L.
“That's my school,” he said. “I'm a Lynx and will be a Lynx forever."
School officials say no decision has been made about discipline. That’s up to the Board of Education. The options could include expulsion, suspension or reassignment.
The Superintendent will make a recommendation to the Board and the Board will render its decision. The family would then have the opportunity to challenge the ruling if they disagree.
AL will dismiss classes at 1:10 p.m. Friday to allow students to attend Dakota's funeral, which will be held at 2 p.m. at Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home at North 16th Street and Avenue M in Council Bluffs.